Listening to your favorite music—–from that “Blame It on the Rain” cassingle to an 8-track of Tusk—–used to be a pretty straightforward task. Portable devices like the Walkman, Discman, and Fisher Price record player accommodated your musical medium of choice and filled your travels with sound, while their bulkier brethren, hi-fi components, diligently did the heavy lifting at home. With the introduction of the iPod, which effectively replaced both the player and the medium, things got a little more complicated. After all, those 40,000 songs in your pocket sound just as good at home as they do on the bus, but nobody wants to wear ear buds while doing dishes.
This is just one of a host of never-before-imagined dilemmas the iPod has introduced—–our list also includes trying to find the “dad rock” playlist while driving, figuring out how to turn down the volume when “Heat of the Moment” erupts without interrupting our game of Solitaire, and dealing with nascent disc jockeys who skip to a new artist every 30 seconds. While the iPod’s most esoteric questions might never be answered, the good news is that solutions to amplifying your iPod at home are relatively simple. For those of you who already have stereos, simply buy a stereo ¹⁄8-inch to RCA cable and you’re “Reelin’in the Years.” Those of you without stereos, read on.
Granting that the iPod is the digital music device of choice (sorry, Zune), we rounded up a selection of docks—–desktop or shelf-sized systems specially designed as an all-in-one solution for playing your favorite playlist. Helping us settle the score is Mike Andrews, who recently finished producing all the music to Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.